This was my first Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (known simply as ‘Harrogate’). And this small fact seemed to come as a surprise to nearly everyone who I mentioned it to, probably because I’m a familiar face at so many bookish things. And my thoughts? Well, it was just one of the best book-related things I have ever done, so here’s a write-up of some of my highlights. And there were so many, I can’t include them all.
But I’ll start by thanking my partner-in-crime, Keith B Walters, who was great company.
Me and Keith – photo from Ali Karim
The whole thing started when I stopped outside to take the obligatory arrival photo when I heard my name. I looked up to be greeted by the fab Mel Sherratt and Caroline Mitchell – and I hadn’t even stepped foot on to the grounds of the Swan Hotel.
I had a tough choice of events straight away (and unlike CrimeFest, you don’t normally have to do too much choosing), but opted for Noir at the Bar, which was run by Vic Watson, with brilliant readings from plenty of authors, including friends Roz Watkins, Susi Holliday, Dave Sivers, Louise Mangos and (new friend), Nic Parker. And through it all, Claire Macleary sat quietly on stage, looking all sweetness and light. And her reading to close the show was (brilliantly) anything but, and the perfect ending for the event!
Vic and Roz
Next up for me was Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, playing their crime-related set. And they were absolutely fantastic!
Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers
Friday started with Harrogate Special Guest, Denise Mina, who was interviewed by the fantastic Stav Sheraz, who later scooped the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for The Intrusions (congratulations, Stav!).
Stav & Denise
This was followed by the panel, I Used to do This for a Living, with Alafair Burke, Fiona Cummins, Chris Morgan Jones, Joseph Finder and chaired by Charles Cumming.
I Used to do This for a Living Panel
Next up for me was the That’s Where My Heart Is panel, with AA Dhand, Leye Adenie, Luca Veste, Susie Steiner and chaired by Peter Robinson.
I took a break then, returning for the Special Guests, Linwood Barclay and Laura Lippman
It was then upstairs to room 166 (renamed The Incident Room) for Thirteen: Live! with Steve Cavanagh, and three ‘juries’.
The it was on to the big event – Special Guest, John Grisham, discussing careers with Lee Child.
John Grisham signing a copy of The Rooster Bar for me!
Richard Osman’s Room 101 of Crime finished the evening’s entertainment, where Martyn Waites, Laura Lippman and Mark Billingham shared the crime fiction issues that they wanted to put into Room 101. It was very funny!
First up for me was Two Crime Writers and a Microphone, playing their Pointless rip-off with Richard Osman and various guests. It was brilliant, and you can watch this again on Orion’s Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/OrionCrime/videos/2181888975185999/
The New Blood panel was up next for me, with Dervla McTiernan, CJ Tudor, Stuart Turton, Will Dean, chaired by Val McDermid.
The What Happened Next? panel caught up with previous New Blood panellists, Liam McIlvanney, Kate Rhodes, Eva Dolan and Abir Mukherjee, which was chaired by Lee Child.
Another break for me before watching Special Guests, Sue Black & Val McDermid talking about Sue’s amazing work.
Special Guest, Don Winslow was interviewed by NJ Cooper, and the evening was rounded off by the Late Night Quiz, in which our table seems to have come sixth. SIXTH! Although one of the highlights of the evening was watching Steve Cavanagh successfully negotiate all of the tables with a full tray of beer. Skillz, man!
The weekend finished off with a panel: Frozen Lands, with Yrsa Siguroardttir, Samuel Bjork, and Ann Cleves, which was chaired by Steph McGovern from BBC Breakfast.
Frozen Lands Panel
Last session of the weekend was Special Guest, Sophie Hannah who was interviewed by Steve Mosby.
And that was my weekend. Will I go again? Without a doubt! I got to catch up with many friends, and make a few new ones along the way. I had a fantastic weekend.